Tag Archives: Scranton-area

OpEd – “The better angels of our nature” … why Pruitt is wrong for EPA

daniel headshotOpEd by PA IPL board president, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, published in the Scranton Times-Tribune on January 10, 2017.

It’s a basic animal instinct to protect self-interests — your food sources, your life and your offspring. Especially at this time of year, we aspire not to mere base instinct, but rather to the “better angels of our nature” that President Abraham Lincoln spoke about. It’s a common theme of most religions: the moral course of action is to go beyond ourselves to protect those in need.

What is true for us as individuals is also true for societies and countries. A great and moral nation doesn’t just protect self-interests. It builds systems and institutions that protect the weak, the vulnerable and the powerless. One such institution in our country is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA protects our health, especially of the poor, who suffer first and most from the effects of environmental degradation.

So it is profoundly distressing to look at the record of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice to head the EPA. Mr. Pruitt has taken every opportunity to sue the EPA to stop the agency from acting to protect public health and natural resources.

For example, he sued unsuccessfully to stop standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses state lines, pollution that increases asthma, lung disease and even reduces life spans, particularly among the very young and seniors.

Worse, he sued, also without success, to head off rules to reduce releases of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants. Even tiny amounts of mercury can cause birth defects and permanent brain damage. In these and other cases, Mr. Pruitt ignored the scientific evidence, backed by health experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, and the American Public Health Association. He supported the positions of fossil fuel companies.

Mr. Pruitt’s opposition to health and safety protections could have particularly serious repercussions for Pennsylvanians, including the 300,000 children who suffer from asthma and the many older Pennsylvanians who suffer from respiratory conditions. According to the American Lung Association, Pennsylvania already pays $9.4 billion in pollution-related health care costs each year. A Pruitt-run EPA also could abandon clean water safeguards protecting thousands of miles of Pennsylvania streams, which are sources of drinking water, fishing, and recreation.

Mr. Pruitt has demonstrated an … –-> continue reading at the Scranton Times-Tribune –>


Download Rabbi Daniel Swartz’ text study of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sî, including 1- or 2- session discussion options, and excerpts from Laudato Si with facing-page Jewish texts (scripture to present).  Written for Yom Kippur study, but appropriate for study by people of any faith, at any time of the year.

FILM and discussion: Racing Extinction

Join members of Temple Hesed for a special showing of the award winning documentary, Racing Extinction, from the makers of The Cove. Learn about why 50% of all species might go extinct in the next 100 years — and what we can do to change the future of our planet for the better. With special added scenes from Interfaith Power & Light and discussion to follow. Note: this film contains graphic and emotional scenes.

Share in your networks (and let Temple Hesed know you’re coming) using the INVITE feature on the Facebook Event page.

Rabbi Daniel Swartz says “When Rabbi Marjorie Berman and I saw this at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, we were incredibly moved —and it has motivated us to take on some life-changing actions. I hope you can join us at Temple Hesed for this important event— and can help us plan what our communities should do next!”

Live too far from Temple Hesed?  Through special arrangement by Interfaith Power & Light with the filmmakers, this film is available to PA IPL members.  If you can show it in a place with internet access, you can also show the 3 minute additional segment Racing Extinction: Faith & the Environment, which features IPL founder the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, among others.

Diocesan Conference 2016: A Revolution of Tenderness

Scranton Diocesan Congress logoPA IPL will have a table at the Diocese of Scranton’s 2016 Congress, themed A Revolution of Tenderness.  (Rabbi Daniel Swartz will be one of the friendly faces behind the table), and the workshops include

3B – Laudato Si and the Call for a New Lifestyle (Jezreel) Pope Francis calls the earth our “Home.” And he beckons us to commit ourselves to a new way of living that measures the impact–positive and negative–of our lifestyle choices. We will explore the theme of simplicity and how our lives can be enriched by a more creation-mindful life.

Registration, and LOTS more info on the conference website.  Check out the really impressive list of workshops and presenters, and don’t miss the link to the Year of Mercy Concert the night before the Congress begins.   Concert registration is separate.

The keynote speaker, Jim Martin, SJ, has won writing awards and appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report more than once.

University of Scranton directions and campus map.

SCRANTON: Care for the Earth Panel

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.24.44 PM Get a PDF of the poster.

The Care for the Earth panel is sponsored by Marywood Campus Ministry, Marywood University Science Department, and Marywood University Campus Studies, and will take place in the McGowan Room in the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life.

Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes.
—Laudato Si §69

Panelists: 

BONUS: wildflower seed giveaway!

SCRANTON: Terra Preta hosts a PA IPL Earth Hour evening

This year, Terra Preta will be hosting an Earth Hour gathering. The lights will be out during dinner from 8-9pm. We invite you to join us in celebrating and making a difference for our planet!

Terra Preta has partnered with Rabbi Daniel Swartz of Temple Hesed and PA IPL Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light to bring this global event to Scranton!

What to expect: During the hour of 8-9pm, the lights will be out in the dining room and you will be eating solely by candle light. In addition to our dinner menu, we will have local and sustainable dinner features, utilizing our local farmers while reducing our waste. We will have a few special guests with us. You will have a chance to get to know local farmers (Fullers Overlook Farm will be there) and learn about ways to access locally grown food. From 6-9pm we will also have live music brought to you by Mark Woodyatt Violin and Entertainment.

We would like to invite you to join Terra Preta in what promises to be an amazing and inspiring global celebration of our collective commitment to the planet. Be sure to make your reservation soon by calling Terra Preta at 570-871-4190

Earth Hour is a worldwide grassroots movement by World Wildlife Fund to unite people to take action for the planet. Earth Hour was started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and since then it has grown to engage supporters in over 172 countries and territories worldwide. During this global moment of solidarity, Earth Hour supporters around the world to take a stand to solve our planet’s biggest environmental challenge yet and shine a light on climate action.

To make reservations for Earth Hour Dinner, please call Terra Preta at 570-871-4190

On Yom Kippur, Jewish Texts Speak to the Pope’s Letter

daniel headshotRabbi Daniel Swartz asked the crowd to close their eyes and imagine the first thing that comes to mind at the word “environment.”

“How many of you had people in that image?” he asked as their eyes opened. Most people shook their heads.

“We separate ourselves from the environment,” Rabbi Swartz said. “If you understand the environment is where we live … then it becomes a little more important.”

On Wednesday, the spiritual leader of Scranton’s Temple Hesed led a discussion that matched segments of “Laudato si’,” Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, with texts from the Torah and Jewish thinkers from ancient to modern times.

Environmental mandates in the Torah range all the way back to the Jewish prophets, with versus like Isaiah 5:8, reading “Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, til there is room for none.”

From the Leviticus Rabbah, he quoted a metaphorical story of sitting in a ship, while one man drills a hole into the hull beneath him. When his companions asked what he was doing, the man replied, “I am only boring a hole under my part of the ship.”

Rabbi Swartz also referenced “Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis,” signed by [over 400] continue reading

The Scranton Times-Tribune published the above 9/24/2015. Article by Brendan Gibbons.  An additional article preceded the event  published 9/15/2015 by Sarah Scinto 

Additional resource: Rabbi David Seidenburg of NeoHasid.org has shared a Hebrew translation of the ecumenical prayer by Pope Francis found at the end of the encyclical, and reprinted in Rabbi Daniel Swartz’ study.  Read and download the translation with notes.